1. Capitalizing in the red zone is the Giants’ top priority on Sunday.
John Schmeelk: Fiction – Win the turnover battle. Protect the football. Take it away. Did I mention win the turnover battle? It really is that simple. The Giants have won the turnover battle in only one game this season, their loss against the Lions. They were even in their win against the Redskins and minus-one in their win against Tampa Bay. The Giants are -10 this season in turnover ratio (3rd worst in the NFL), but the Jets are -7. The Jets also have a young quarterback, Sam Darnold, who has given the ball away. If the Giants win the turnover battle this week, I would be very surprised if they lost the game.
Lance Medow: Fact – This is a fact every single game. In Monday’s loss to the Cowboys, the Giants went 1 of 5 in the red zone, which proved to be the difference maker. In fairness, Dallas entered with a solid red zone defense (5th NFL) as opponents were converting only 46% of the time, but when you have that many trips inside your opponents’ 20-yard line, you need to capitalize more often. Fortunately for the Giants, the Jets are on the opposite end of the spectrum from the Cowboys when it comes to red zone defense. Opponents are scoring touchdowns 65% of the time (29th NFL). Punching the ball in the end zone has to be priority number one, two & three for the Giants Sunday. Don’t leave anything to chance.
2. Saquon Barkley will lead the team in receptions against the Jets.
Schmeelk: Fiction – I think Jets defensive coordinator Gregg Williams will take a page out of what was effective for the Lions and Cowboys and blitz early and often on Sunday. They will use twists and send players from the linebacker and secondary levels to force Daniel Jones into mistakes. According to PFF, only four teams have blitzed more than the Jets, and they lead league in twists/stunts. The Giants can handle this in a couple of ways. Barkley could leak out of the backfield for short dump-offs or remain in the backfield to block. I bet it is more of the latter and it is Golden Tate who leads the team in receptions.
Medow: Fiction – Since Golden Tate returned from his four-game suspension, he has led or tied for the lead in receptions in four of the Giants’ five games, including each of the last four contests. Saquon Barkley tied with Tate in each of the last two games. With Evan Engram and Sterling Shepard both sidelined due to injuries, that will create even more targets for Tate, so I’d give him a slight edge over Barkley.
3. The Giants will have at least three sacks, one of which will be from Leonard Williams vs. his former team.
Schmeelk: Fact – The Giants have had three or more sacks in six of their nine games. The Jets have had to play eight different offensive linemen at least 100 snaps due to injuries. Veteran Kelechi Osemele is on injured reserve and out for the year. Veteran center Ryan Kalil missed last week with a knee injury. Third round rookie Chuma Edoga had to start at left tackle last week. Jets quarterbacks have been sacked on a higher percentage of their dropbacks (12.5%) than any other team. If the Giants are going to get to the quarterback, this week is the week!
Medow: Fiction – The Giants will have at least three sacks, but I don’t think one of them be will courtesy of Leonard Williams, so that’s why I’m going fiction. You have to meet both criteria here. The Jets have surrendered 37 sacks, second most in the NFL behind only the Titans (38). That means opponents are averaging over 4.5 sacks per game against the Jets. The Giants have recorded at least three sacks in six of their nine games and the two times they failed to collect any sacks were against the Cowboys. The Jets’ offensive line isn’t in the same category as Dallas.
4. Victor Cruz’s 99-yard touchdown against the Jets in 2011 is the greatest play in New York/New Jersey sports over the past decade.
Schmeelk: Fact – Despite it only being a regular season game, the play and subsequent win for the Giants helped catapult them on a Super Bowl run. And you can’t have a longer play from scrimmage. It is probably the signature play of Victor Cruz’s career. Neither the Knicks nor Nets have been good enough for a play in any of their games to be as meaningful. The subway series between the Mets and the Yankees has also been lacking in meaning over the past decade. Maybe there was a moment between the hockey teams, but I yield to others that know more about sports played on frozen water.
Medow: Fact – Victor Cruz’s 99-yard touchdown against the Jets in 2011 not only served as a huge turning point in that game but also the Giants’ season. Entering that contest, Big Blue had been hovering around .500 for the majority of the year. The Giants would go on to win their final two games before riding that momentum to a Super Bowl victory. You’d be hard pressed to find another play over the last decade that provided such a spark for a New York/New Jersey team.
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